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Late Ordovician Konservat-Lagerstätten in Manitoba

February 10, 2013
Dasycladalean green algae

Fossils from the Airport Cove site, part 1: spectacular examples of dasycladalean green algae on bedding plane surfaces (The Manitoba Museum, MM B-339, B-340).

Canada is remarkably rich in Konservat-Lagerstätten, sites at which unusual fossils are preserved. For the past while, Dave Rudkin and I have been co-editing a series for Geoscience Canada called Great Canadian Lagerstätten, which compiles reviews of these sites, covering many intervals from the geological record. The third paper in the series is based on our own research, describing the fossils from three unusual localities in central and northern Manitoba. Together with our co-authors, we have had a lot of fun putting this together: it was interesting to have the chance to assess the state of our “art”, to see where we really are with our research. We have learned a lot about these fossils, but still miles to go before we put this project to bed.

other taxa

Fossils from the Airport Cove site, part 2: (c) Articulated scolecodont apparatus (jaws of a polychaete worm)(MM I-4062). (d) Large phosphatic or chitinophosphatic tubes of uncertain affinity (MM I-4061). (e) Finely preserved organic eurypterid cuticle (MM I-4063).

The abstract of the paper follows below. If you are interested in downloading a pdf of the entire paper, it can be found here.

Konservat-Lagerstätten, deposits in which soft-bodied or lightly sclerotized fossils are preserved, are very rare in Ordovician strata. Three significant sites are known from Upper Ordovician rocks in Manitoba: at Cat Head – McBeth Point, William Lake, and Airport Cove. These sites are in two distinct sedimentary basins: the former two are in the Williston Basin, while the latter is in the Hudson Bay Basin. All three sites contain marine fossils, but each has a different assemblage that contributes a distinct piece of the diversity picture. Important groups represented at one or more of the sites include seaweeds (algae), sponges, cnidarian medusae (jellyfish), conulariids, trilobites, eurypterids, xiphosurids (horseshoe crabs), and pycnogonids (‘sea spiders’). The different biotas reflect depositional conditions at each site. Many of the fossils are unknown elsewhere in the Ordovician at the family level or higher. The province of Manitoba therefore makes a significant contribution to knowledge of Late Ordovician biodiversity.


Fossils from the Airport Cove site, part 3: (f) Partial eurypterid abdomen (MM I-4586). g. ‘Head’ region of eurypterid-like arthropod (MM I-4064A). (h) The holotype specimen of the xiphosurid (horseshoe crab) Lunataspis aurora; note the preserved eye and dark-stained areas (MM I-4000). (i) This degraded example of L. aurora is surrounded by a halo of dark staining, possibly the result of postmortem decomposition of soft tissue and leakage of body fluids (MM I-4585).

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2013 6:04 am

    Excellent article Graham!!! The preservation is fantastic… dasycladalean green algae very well preserved and reminds me of the the algae I collected in the Silurian at Dundas Quarry near Hamilton Ontario…

    Congratulations to your team on another fantastic paper on the Manitoba Ordovician Lagerstatten… Thank you for sharing this wonderful window in time!

    Best Wishes,

    • Graham permalink*
      February 10, 2013 11:54 am

      Peter, thanks for your comment. Those fossils you posted look interesting.

  2. David Greenwood permalink
    February 10, 2013 9:56 pm

    Great fossils! Wonderful MB story! And thanks for the plug in the Acknowledgements of the Geoscience article. I will use this in my upcoming lectures in my Evolution class!

    • Graham permalink*
      February 10, 2013 11:15 pm

      Dave, thank you for the kind comment!

  3. April 24, 2013 1:53 pm

    Great post Graham. Had to get my fossil fix for the day~

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